The Twilight of Life

1 So remember your Creator in the days of your youth:

Before the days of adversity come,
and the years approach when you will say,(A)
“I have no delight in them”;
before the sun and the light are darkened,(B)
and the moon and the stars,
and the clouds return after(a) the rain;
on the day when the guardians of the house tremble,
and the strong men stoop,
the women who grind cease because they are few,
and the ones who watch through the windows see dimly,(C)
the doors at the street are shut
while the sound of the mill fades;(D)
when one rises at the sound of a bird,
and all the daughters of song grow faint.
Also, they are afraid of heights and dangers on the road;
the almond tree blossoms,
the grasshopper loses its spring,(b)
and the caper berry has no effect;
for man is headed to his eternal home,(E)
and mourners will walk around in the street;(F)
before the silver cord is snapped,(c)
and the gold bowl is broken,(G)
and the jar is shattered at the spring,
and the wheel is broken into the well;
and the dust returns to the earth as it once was,
and the spirit returns to God who gave it.(H)
8 “Absolute futility,” says the Teacher. “Everything is futile.”(I)

The Teacher’s Objectives and Conclusion

9 In addition to the Teacher being a wise man, he constantly taught the people knowledge; he weighed, explored, and arranged many proverbs.(J) 10 The Teacher sought to find delightful sayings and write words of truth accurately. 11 The sayings of the wise are like goads,(K) and those from masters of collections are like firmly embedded nails.(L) The sayings are given by one Shepherd.(d)
12 But beyond these, my son, be warned: there is no end to the making of many books,(M) and much study wearies the body.(N) 13 When all has been heard, the conclusion of the matter is: fear God(O) and keep His commands, because this is for all humanity.(P) 14 For God will bring every act to judgment,(Q) including every hidden thing, whether good or evil.


a. Ecclesiastes 12:2: Or with
b. Ecclesiastes 12:5: Or grasshopper is weighed down, or grasshopper drags itself along
c. Ecclesiastes 12:6: Alt Hb tradition reads removed
d. Ecclesiastes 12:11: Or by a shepherd

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